How wellness dollars can help you boost employee engagement - Ragan Communications (2023)

How wellness dollars can help you boost employee engagement - Ragan Communications (1)

Does your insurance provider offer corporate wellness dollars? If they do, and you don’t know what this benefit is, or how to put it to use, you could be missing out on part of your company’s insurance benefits.

Encouraging and growing employee engagement takes a concerted effort by company leaders and the human resources team. According toresearch from Ten Spot, four ways to help employees, especially those working remotely, feel more engaged and connected to their coworkers include:

  • Incentives designed to specifically help them maintain a healthy work-life balance
  • Rewards from their managers/employers
  • Company-supplied equipment or an equipment stipend
  • Virtual social activities with colleagues

Another way is to use the tools provided by your insurance provider to expand wellness programs. One such tool, wellness dollars, puts your company in control and can help you promote social connections between employees while helping them lead healthier lives.

In the wake of COVID-19, hybrid workplace models, and economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to ensure your employees are engaged, happy, and healthy. Wellness dollars can help your company help its employees do just that.

What are wellness dollars?

Wellness dollars areinsurance-provided fundsthat employers can use for health and wellness initiatives. Companies often use them for incentives such as fitness classes, gym memberships, or nutrition seminars, though they have a wide range of applications.

Studies showwhen companies invest in employees’ health and wellness, employees are happier, more creative, more productive, and more likely to stay. That lowers costs, leads to higher profits, and improves employee morale.

With that in mind, how do wellness dollars work, and how can you use them to improve employee engagement?

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How wellness dollars can help you boost employee engagement - Ragan Communications (2)

How Do Wellness Dollars Work?

Wellness dollars are funds insurance companies set aside to invest in employee health initiatives. These are outside standard benefits, such as covering a visit to the doctor or health screenings. Instead, these funds can be used on a wide range ofcorporate wellness programs.

While the actual process can vary by insurance provider or wellness broker, here’s how they generally work:

  1. Check to see if your insurance provider offers wellness dollars. They may also be called workplace wellness dollars. If they don’t offer a program, consider negotiating for one by mentioning the benefits, such as lower health care costs.
  2. Ask what programs or items the wellness dollars cover and what vendors they work with.
  3. Purchase covered equipment or schedule activities from workplace wellness vendors.
  4. Submit receipts to the insurance provider for reimbursement.

Some companies do not know wellness dollars exist. This means an organization could be missing out on a wide range of benefits that could improve the overall employee experience — and the bottom line.

What Are the Benefits of Wellness Dollars?

Wellness programs are growing in popularity. In fact,83 percentof large firms and 53 percent of small firms offer some type of wellness program. Why are so many businesses putting in the effort to implement wellness programs? These five benefits speak for themselves.

1. Helping employees in a cost-effective way

Wellness programs aren’t just good for your employees’ health; they also offer an ROI of as much as$3.80for every dollar spent. That means everyone wins.

2. Improving the health and wellness of employees.

Offering wellness programs increases the health and wellness of employees, but what does that look like in practice? Depending on your contract with your insurer,wellness dollars may be available to use for:

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  • Wellness programs
  • Wellness activities
  • Gym memberships and other fitness program fees
  • Chronic disease management programs
  • Health coaching
  • And more

In companies with wellness programs,employees reportedlower stress levels,better engagement, and lower risk of injury.

3. Offering more competitive benefits packages.

Some businesses arestruggling to attract employees. When companies offer more competitive benefits, they have a competitive hiring edge that can help them attract top talent.

4. Lowering healthcare costs.

A recent study found well-designed wellness programs and wellness dollars canreduce overall healthcare costs. That’s good news for both the company and the employees.

5. Improving engagement — and your bottom line.

Healthier employees are happier employees — and happier employees are more productive. One study found that corporate wellness programs can increase productivity by afull day a month per employee. Furthermore,Gallup researchshows that companies with engaged employees have boosted or improved “financial, customer, retention, safety, quality, shrinkage, and absenteeism metrics.”

To use wellness dollars to increase employee engagement, consider the following tips.

How wellness dollars can help you boost employee engagement - Ragan Communications (3)

Use your wellness dollars to promote employee engagement.

Wellness dollars cover certain health and wellness purchases and programs that can improve the overall wellness of your team and help employees feel more connected, empowered, and proud of their role at your company. Here’s how to get started.


1. Find out if you have access to wellness dollars.

Once you find out if your insurance company has a wellness reimbursement program, ask what health and wellness expenses are eligible for reimbursement, such as different types of classes and physical items. Ask if there are spending limits and if they apply per category or overall.

After you learn your budget, it’s time to find out what programs your team is interested in.

2. Survey your team before spending wellness dollars

Before making a purchase decision, survey your team to see what programs they are most interested in and what programs or incentives they would actually use. You only want to spend wellness dollars on programs that people want to use and benefit from. Emphasize options that will help them connect with their coworkers, such as a group yoga class (in person or over a video call), or feel rejuvenated during the workday, such as a meditation workshop or art therapy.

Also, consider your company’s future plans. For example, an on-site gym may sound like a great idea, but if your company plans to move to ahybrid work model, how often will that gym be used? Or, if most of your staff already have a wearable fitness device, allocating funds to purchase a new Fitbit for everyone may not be the most effective use of your wellness dollars.

Yourcompany culturecan also impact which types of programs are most effective. If your team is very open, casual, and comfortable with one another, a mental health workshop may be beneficial. However, keep in mind that some employees may not be comfortable sharing their feelings and struggles with coworkers.

3. Find wellness program vendors.

Next, find the vendors that offer the programs your team is interested in. Your healthcare provider may have a list of approved vendors, which can be a good starting point. Whichever vendor you select, make sure the program is eligible for reimbursement by your healthcare provider.

Don’t be afraid to invest in virtual programs. COVID-19 andremote workhave changed people’s relationships with virtual classes. This option may be more convenient and more engaging than in-person courses for your employees.

If you can, plan to offer a mix of programs. Not all employees face the same challenges or feel engaged at work the same way, so aim to provide an assortment of programs related to both mental and physical health. Track Your Wellness Program Results.

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Make sure to track the impact of your wellness programs and wellness dollar spend. You wouldn’t implement a marketing program without tracking results, and this is no different. Look at metrics such as absenteeism, overall employee satisfaction, and engagement with programs.

Use this data to decide which programs to keep. An employee survey about your wellness programs may also provide crucial data about a program’s success.

How wellness dollars can help you boost employee engagement - Ragan Communications (4)

Where to use your wellness dollars.

Wellness dollars can be spent on a wide range of programs and items. While each provider may reimburse for different programs, here are 15 ideas of how to spend your wellness dollars:

  • Gym memberships
  • Wearable devices, such as Fitbits
  • Live and virtual fitness classes
  • Meditation workshops
  • Self-defense classes
  • Biometric screenings
  • Nutrition seminars
  • Healthy cooking classes
  • Art therapy
  • Health challenges
  • Virtual wellness fair
  • Team-building activities (to improve social well-being)
  • Mental health treatments
  • Conflict resolution training
  • Weight management offerings

Remember, most wellness dollars are a use-it-or-lose-it benefit. Even if a program ends up not working for your employees, your company still needed to spend the money. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to try programs to see what employees respond to.

Wellness dollars lead to employees who are more engaged.

One way to improve your employee engagement, emphasize the importance of mental and physical health, maximize your wellness benefits, and potentially fuel your bottom line is to usewellness dollars. By investing in your employees, you create a better workplace for everyone.

Danielle Antosz is a Chicago-based writer and content strategist specializing in SaaS, tech, and digital marketing. Her work has appeared on numerous industry blogs. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her knitting and planning her next trip.


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How do you get employees to be engaged in a wellness program? ›

Ways to Encourage Employee Participation in Your Workplace Wellness Program
  1. Appoint a wellness coordinator. ...
  2. Provide programs employees want. ...
  3. Offer incentives. ...
  4. Keep it simple. ...
  5. Spread the word. ...
  6. Offer consistent activities. ...
  7. Donate work time and resources.
Feb 20, 2020

How do wellness programs benefit employees? ›

Research shows that wellness programs can encourage employees to smoke less, eat healthier food, exercise more and manage stress more effectively. Wellness programs also have been shown to help employees alleviate and better manage the symptoms of depression, improving their overall wellbeing.

What are 5 benefits of wellness? ›

Research studies related to wellness indicate that Americans who take good care of themselves and make healthy lifestyle choices are healthier, happier, more productive, miss less work, and have lower healthcare costs.

Why is wellness important for employees? ›

Modern employees expect employers to help them live great lives. But improving employee wellbeing isn't just an exercise in altruism. Employers who care for employee health and wellbeing see numerous measurable benefits, from higher productivity and profitability to lower turnover and fewer safety incidents.

What are 4 goals for an employee wellness program? ›

Improve employee health and well-being. Empower employees with health education and lifestyle skills that enable them to achieve their best possible health. Positively affect employee morale and job satisfaction. Optimize performance and productivity.

What are 3 key elements of a successful wellness program? ›

Based on their experience, the following are key elements of a successful wellness program.
  • Flexibility. The goal for any wellness program is engagement from its employees. ...
  • Be aware of best practices. ...
  • An ability to track engagement. ...
  • Freedom to choose. ...
  • Motivates people to make wellness a priority.

What are three examples of wellness? ›

They include: social connectedness, exercise, nutrition, sleep and mindfulness. Each one has an impact on your physical and mental health. By making simple and healthy choices on a daily basis, you will be well on your way towards reducing stress, having positive social interactions and achieving optimal wellness.

How do you promote wellness? ›

Promoting health and wellness: 7 workplace tips
  1. Encourage preventative care. ...
  2. Make healthy alternatives convenient for employees. ...
  3. Opt for nutritious lunches. ...
  4. Provide opportunities for health education. ...
  5. Make downtime a priority. ...
  6. Emphasize the importance of mental health. ...
  7. Get up and move throughout the day.

Why is it important to promote wellness? ›

Physical wellness promotes proper care of our bodies for optimal health and functioning. There are many elements of physical wellness that all must be cared for together. Overall physical wellness encourages the balance of physical activity, nutrition and mental well-being to keep your body in top condition.

What is employee wellness examples? ›

13 Employee Wellness Examples to Follow
  • Provide Healthy Snacks. ...
  • Promote Fitness at Work. ...
  • Negotiate Employee Discounts for Gym Memberships. ...
  • Evaluate Wellness Online. ...
  • Participate in Take Your Dog to Work Day. ...
  • Remind Your Employees to Get Flu Shots. ...
  • Invest in Ergonomic Chairs. ...
  • Encourage Staff to Get an Eye Test.
Feb 24, 2021

What are 4 things businesses can do to encourage employee wellness? ›

One way to encourage employees to make healthier choices is to offer discounts on healthy snacks.
  • Promoting balanced mental health. ...
  • Encouraging breaks and physical activity. ...
  • Empowering a work-life balance culture. ...
  • Providing health insurance benefits that encourage preventive care.
Oct 28, 2022

How do you spend wellness dollars? ›

Examples of how to use a wellness stipend
  1. Counseling. Stress is at an all-time high with the disruptions caused by the pandemic. ...
  2. Ergonomically office furniture. ...
  3. Gym membership or equipment. ...
  4. Health insurance. ...
  5. Weight loss plan membership. ...
  6. Massage or spa services. ...
  7. Health supplements. ...
  8. Smoking cessation program.

What is a good wellness goal for work? ›

Examples of goals for a workplace wellbeing program include: Reducing health care costs. Reducing absenteeism. Increasing employee productivity and engagement.

What is employee wellness and engagement? ›

Employee Engagement in Workplace Wellness

Engagement involves creating and maintaining a sincere interest and involvement in living a healthy life—at home and at work. Workplace wellness programs are only as effective as the proportion of employees who are truly engaged in the program.

Can you describe how you plan to promote wellness with the employees? ›

Some ideas employers can use to support remote employee wellness include reimbursing workers for fitness activities such as online exercise or meditation programs; encouraging employees to separate their work lives from their private lives; scheduling regular check-ins with leaders to discuss any issues; and creating a ...

What 3 keys to success are important for a workplace wellness program? ›

The Key to Success for Workplace Wellness Programs
  • Communicate Support. Communicate to your employees that wellness is something you value and is an important part of your business' strategy and operations. ...
  • Mitigate Possible Barriers. ...
  • Allocate Resources. ...
  • Walk the Talk.

What are the 4 most important components of wellness? ›

The Four Dimensions
  • Spiritual Wellness. Spiritual strength is that force that drives us to make sacrifices for others, our nation, and the greater good. ...
  • Emotional Wellness. Emotional wellness refers to building an awareness of and accepting one's feelings and moods. ...
  • Physical Wellness. ...
  • Social Wellness.

What are at least five 5 workplace wellness best practices for a successful wellness program? ›

7 Best Practices For Setting Up Your Corporate Wellness Program
  • Treat the program as a benefit, not a perk.
  • Team up with the right platform.
  • Adopt a results-oriented mindset …
  • 4. … But offer flexibility.
  • Create a culture that celebrates wellness.
  • Ensure accessibility.
  • Help people form habits.
Mar 28, 2019

How do you practice wellness at work? ›

5 ways to practise wellness at work
  1. Make breathing exercises a part of your day. Checking in on your breathing throughout the day. ...
  2. Introduce mindful meetings. ...
  3. Find mindful moments wherever you can. ...
  4. Set alerts and reminders to keep you on course. ...
  5. Try mindful movement. ...
  6. Finding your own practice.
Jun 15, 2022

What is wellness in one word? ›

well·​ness. : the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal. lifestyles that promote wellness.

How do you measure wellness in the workplace? ›

5 Ways to Measure Employee Health and Wellness
  1. Track Sick Time Utilization. ...
  2. Be Aware of Overtime Rates. ...
  3. Keep a Handle on Turnover. ...
  4. Compare Year-Over-Year Insurance Claims. ...
  5. Ask Your Employees Directly.
May 13, 2019

What does wellness mean and why it is important? ›

Wellness—it's more than a buzzword. Wellness is a holistic approach to health that includes more than our physical and mental wellbeing; wellness encompasses emotional, spiritual, and social wellbeing for full body wellness, too.

What does it mean to promote wellness? ›

Wellness promotion can be defined as the enhancement of physical, mental, and social well-being and the prevention of disease and disability.

How does a wellness program help a company? ›

A corporate wellness program can help a company keep its employees healthy and avoid losing productivity due to sick days. By putting together a corporate wellness program tailored to the needs of employees, companies can help them live healthier lifestyles and make better choices about their health.

How do wellness programs affect the workplace? ›

70% of workers enrolled in a workplace wellness program have reported “higher job satisfaction” after enrollment. This is incredibly important for businesses of all sizes, since companies with engaged, happy employees are 21% more profitable, and workplaces with high morale see 41% less absenteeism on the job.

What is the result of having workplace wellness programs? ›

Findings In this cluster randomized trial involving 32 974 employees at a large US warehouse retail company, worksites with the wellness program had an 8.3-percentage point higher rate of employees who reported engaging in regular exercise and a 13.6-percentage point higher rate of employees who reported actively ...

What are some positive factors that impact your wellness? ›

Factors that influence wellbeing
  • happy intimate relationship with a partner.
  • network of close friends.
  • enjoyable and fulfilling career.
  • enough money.
  • regular exercise.
  • nutritional diet.
  • enough sleep.
  • spiritual or religious beliefs.

Why is wellness so important? ›

Overall physical wellness encourages the balance of physical activity, nutrition and mental well-being to keep your body in top condition. Obtaining an optimal level of physical wellness allows you to nurture personal responsibility for your own health.


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